Beer, poetry, puns, and basically I’m in heaven. Alert reader Kevin Sullivan of Medford, Mass., texted me on Saturday night to introduce Shakesbeer Brewing Company, creating craft ales brewed "as you like it." He indicated that each new variety would have its own sonnet; from the website I can find only quatrains of their 2 first samples, "Act One," and "The Tempest." I commend their mastery of meter! Alas, they are still 6 lines short.
What a rabbit hole I found, though… did you know that Southern Tier (popular in northwest PA, where I spend way too much time) brews a Sonnet Ale? Or that a Toronto brewpub calls itself Sonnet 43, after Elizabeth Barrett Browning? We’ve read that one here before. The greybeards among us will remember, in fact, that the very first MV poem, before the listserv was even called Monday’s Verse, celebrated a 20th Century English poem that balances the joys of malt vs. those of Milton.
But then I found a sonnet by a man named Beer, and I said, That’s our sonnet for today. John Beer, not to be confused with the British Literary Critic who died last year, has an MFA from Iowa and currently teaches at Portland State U. I like his poem here. But what I want to speak about stems from his "prison yard" reference. As you age and drink less, are you wondering what to do with all that leftover beer money? How about supporting a poetry-in-prisons workshop and book project? Mosey on over to the Poetry Asylum kickstarter page to learn more, and don’t be shy to plop down a 6-pack’s worth on literary arts for, and from, people most affected by our incarceration addiction. And enjoy your week! -ed
SONNETS TO MORPHEUS ["I know kung fu"]
I know kung fu.” It won’t bring back the world.
5:15 a.m.: I wake from another dream,
the same as every dream. A man builds a ship
in my chest. Each of the sailors
carries by her breast a picture of her sister.
The ship is not the image of a ship.
Beyond its sails there are no stars.
The water is only water because it’s black.
5:15 a.m. Perhaps you’ve seen me
practicing my moves in the empty prison yard
and wondered whether you were the dreamer
conjuring me into existence from the bare
desire to caress a phantom ship
and my death the death of your desire.